Tuesday, August 14, 2012


There is no justification for not writing or updating your blog.  Especially, when the initial few entries were well received by friends, families and colleagues (both current and former). To be truthful, when asked, I hate to talk about my laziness and end up coming with some excuse or the other, including stupid ones like lack of time. With an honest intention of being more regular in writing, here go my thoughts!
Today, as I post this piece, team Adhrit is on the verge of completing three years of its operations. It has been an amazing journey. And of course, in the last three years, along with this experience I have been part of some very beautiful journeys. I clearly remember drawing up business plans and getting a hang of how to professionally approach issues like marketing, invoicing, etc while overlooking the grand lake in Bhopal at a close friend’s house (or should I call it a manor) on the lakeside. The pristine beauty and the sweet tinge of fresh air while making some very important decisions in the early days is something I shall remember for a long time.
When we started off, many warned us about a long ‘gestation period’.  But as long it has been, I feel that the bigger challenge was adjusting. I can safely correlate this experience with landing in London bang in the middle of celebrated English summers and getting used to bright sunshine, as we went for dinner at 10 PM. Despite all the readings of Enid Blytons (of course there were others too), all those friends who lovingly told us about their summers in London, all that web research on things to do in UK, the long days came as a surprise. We quickly learnt how to make most of the days, were lovingly introduced to the English way of life by wonderful friends and family, and just went with the flow. So, coming back to Adhrit experience over the last three years, I feel that what helped us out was quickly developing the ability to go with the flow. We faced some very pertinent challenges. More often than not, we were facing situations which were new for us. What rocked the cradle for us were people, who helped us to maintain our thinking, kept us on the edge and played an instrumental role in maintaining our sanity.
But, as you go with the flow, it is also important to keep your eyes open. While rafting down the Ganges, I realized that I was missing out on the fun because I ended up closing my eyes when the water became rough. I was merely sitting as a silent spectator depending on someone else if I was thrown overboard by the rapids. As I learnt to keep my eyes open in rough waters, not only was I more confident, but rather, was trying to convince the guide to let me jump from the boat in the next rapid. Of course, I did not get that privilege, but learnt that eyes wide open can change the entire experience. A classic example of the difference between going with the flow and going through the motions.  

I often take a lot of pride in the efficiency by which a small team like ours is able to deliver quick turn-arounds and handle projects, which would ordinarily require more hands than what we have. I have been after my colleagues to agree to a roadmap for team expansion, a plea that has landed in deaf ears. Every time I talk about recruiting more people, I am reminded by Surbhi of how most places that we stayed in during our journey across Europe, whether it be Paris, Colmar or places in Switzerland, reasonably huge establishments hosting 150-200 people were being run and managed by not more than 2-3 people. Back home in India, an establishment that big would have at least 2-3 managers aided by 3-4 assistants aided by 5-6 peons. Inspite of all that, the actual cost of living would be a fraction of what it would cost you in Europe. This brings me to a question, which I am sure a lot of firms in similar capacity would be grappling with. We have an option to follow the well established industrial practice by making the most of the inexpensive resources available in our industry, a process which we all have been part of as freshers in this profession. This allows us to be aggressive on the hiring front and project a team which shall be a good reflection of capabilities. On the other hand, thinking about those establishments in Europe, I feel that we still can deliver a lot more individually and pamper ourselves with the additional benefits of success (I really envied the Jaguars which the receptionist/cum cleaning lady/ cum project manager cum marketing executive cum accounts person drove home after her shift).  Anyways, we have shelved all these issues for the time being and will take this issue up in a couple of months as we move to our new location.          
‘Small is beautiful’ is a term that every entrepreneur has gone through and remembers for times to come. I have to admit, I love the fact of us being a small outfit. It allows us to bring in innovative changes in our work methodology. A few months back, we were faced with an enormous exercise, for execution of which the bare minimum requirement would be a team at least twice our size and consisting of people from other practice areas which we lacked.  We had a simple solution to counter the problem. We relocated to the project location for almost a month. We got the resources available on site and modeled the assignment in a manner that turned out to be efficient and cost effective for client. During that month, every day, we followed same discipline which we would follow in our office (maybe more). This gave us the freedom to chart our time in a manner that other ongoing assignments were not affected in any manner. If you think of it, the time spent in project location was same as anyone would spend in a project of this manner. The difference was in perception, where we told ourselves that the project site was our office for a month. The experience reminded me of the long trek which I took to Annapurna Base Camp last year with a buddy. When tired of climbing the steep paths, I would try to forget that I am on an adventure journey and tell myself that I am going home after work. See, how perceptions make a difference.   
A recently aired ad (I think it was emirates) talked about a person being as rich as much he has travelled. Now, I can’t boast of being rich or for that matter being well travelled. I know a lot of people who travel more than they sleep. One of my cousins recently tweeted about his tendency to loosen his seat-belt after watching a movie. Despite my recent professional travels to other metros, I really can’t say that I have seen those cities, so can’t say that those travels have made me richer.  Having seen almost the whole of India, I can say with some amount of conviction that not too many things will surprise me too much (exception being the long days in Europe) and every new travel shall surely make me richer (if not wealthier).
Cheers till next time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Bengali Heart!

As we await the arrival of one of my closest friends to join us for what should turn out to be one of the most interesting and 'off beat' project handled by A-L, I cannot help but reminisce about the beginning of this month when my first vacation in the last one year of A-L took me around one of the most interesting journeys I have taken of late. I spent 10 days travelling, exploring and appetizing Kolkata and around. Now, I have an admission to make. I was prejudiced about the experience much before it started. As I came out of Netaji Subhash Airport, I was wondering as to what made me use up a precious vacation to travel around what is termed as a messy, future less, aimless 'City of Joy'! A probable reason was to go and see how my sister is coping up with her relocation to Nadia, but the quintessential 'dil' wanted 'more'. But still, who leaves a messy city (sorry delhi) to go on a vacation in another messy City (no offences, Kolkata)?

Having read a lot about Kolkata as I grew up and having a substantial number of Bengali friends, it remained the only part of the country, which I had not been to and here I was, roaming around the city and exploring it in a manner like a typical firang. Now, as much against my temptations, I will not treat this blog as a travel memoir about my beautiful experiences in the length and breadth of Kolkatta, Nadia, Shantiniketan, Sunderbans. I could go on an on about my innumerable experiences in the local from Sealdah(Kolkatta) to Kachrapada (Nadia), the ferry ride across Hooghly and spending three days on the ferry in and around Sunderban reserves! But, what remains is love with the Bengali heart!

What a majestic view it was! No, it was not honest and it definitely was not incorruptible or lacked crookedness that prevails in any other place in India (or maybe world), but it had a loving touch to it. It was a heart that would bend to your will, not on showering it with some Gandhis, but by merely imposing your assertiveness to it.

Every communication with any entity had to start with a strong usage of 'Dada' and see how the solution unfolded itself. It stood true at several junctures. A rude usage could be used to wake up a sleeping cabbie at 330 in the morning! A polite usage could get the waiter to serve extra curries with 'Ilsa' and 'Bhetki' or to get his expertise on how a crab is devoured to help enjoy the meal. A loving usage could get a rikshaw puller to act as a guide (and mind you, without any extra charge) to take you around in Shantiniketan to places that 'Lonely planet' definitely missed out on. A use in a manner that reflected unfamiliarisation with the local language could get half the bogey in a local to advise you as to which station is nearest to your destination . An affectionate usage could get people sharing their entire life's problems and a complimentary usage could nearly land you in a local meeting of a hot headed political party(depending which side you are on). Usage as a plea could get you pearls of wisdom that you would remember forever!

Travelling around Bengal, I met a heart that grossly underestimates its powers and its reach. It will not be fair to judge Bengal on the sight of a failed university or the fact that almost nothing happens without its share of bandhs or protests. You have to see the full 'josh type' university that is growing up amidst the ruins of the old agricultural university. You have to go in and around the salt lake city to see the growth potential. You have to see the thoroughness of their counsels who we regularly deal with and learn from. You have to see their utilised resources to understand what was the bedrock of Indian industry until half a century back.

wishing my new (and old) friends a happy future. And on the professional experience front, we have a lot to share! till next time ...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Well wishers, good citizens or Ambulance Chasers?

Last couple of weeks were a revelation. A few sunday evenings back, we all went out together to the workshop to get some pending nagging problems rectified (tyre change and wheel balancing for negi's car & change of tube for surbhi's car & me giving company for an abject lack of social life). As we were cruising and debating the performance of a CNG engine , we , in a matter of seconds became witnesses to a hit and run case. A white indica swirled past us and in an attempt to repeat the grand performance with another car, brazenly knocked down a poor bike rider, who ended up losing his balance and colliding head on with the railings on the road side. We were around 50 Metres behind the bike. The car driver obviously, realising that he could be in trouble, sped away at a speed which could give race drivers some goosebumps.

As we stopped the car and rushed towards the victim, a crowd had already started assembling. Now this guy was lying in a pool of blood and obviously, being in a state of shock, was in a bad shape. The image of flesh of both the shoulders being partially ripped apart and blood oozling out will not leave me for a long time to come. But on a different note, we knew exactly what needed to be done. Negi 's first reaction was to read the number of the indica as it sped away. I rushed to the victim to check on him. Now, he wasn't exactly in a condition for first aid but his panic was evident. I started speaking to him to try to ensure that he doesnt fall unconscious. He asked for my help to get him to sit down as the road was burning hot, which i nervously did. In the meanwhile, we called 100 to report accident and asking for backup. However, knowing the state of affairs of police backup in NOIDA, Negi and surbhi without wasting time rushed to the nearest hospital to get the ambulance. The hospital staff were reluctant to release an ambulance without 'procedures'. Of course, hearing surbhi's legal credentials (yes, she does that part very well) and threats (that too!!!) they agreed to release the ambulance. In the meanwhile, seeing that a few more people had assembled, I sprinted to the police check post (hardly 100 Mt. away) requesting them to issue alert over wireless (which I doubt they did). I returned with an indifferent police patrol who just added themselves to the crowd assembling there! The constable was 'kind' enough to note the number of the car on a schoolboy notepad. After some ranting, they offered to put the 'body' in car, which I refused (to their relief) since Negi and surbhi were on their way back with the ambulance. Leave alone the victim, the police were even indifferent to manage the traffic. Looking at them standing in their unbuttoned shirts and khakhi watching helplessly was pathetic! Finally, as the ambulance arrived, they started moving and getting the crowd to disperse. Hospital was a different state of affairs. Now here was a kid lying in absolute pain and nearly in a state of unconsciousness and some chap with white coat, in eagerness to prepare his MLC was asking him his address and exact location as to where the accident took place(By then the kid had already given his fathers name, phone number, etc). Anyways, the good news was that the kid was out of danger. I contacted his father, and gave him the location of the hospital. In the meanwhile, negi took care of the pre deposit and we asked the docs to start whatever they felt was necessary and asked the kid's father not to panic. After the arrival of substantial number of his family members, including his dad , we took leave, gave our numbers and left the hospital. That was not the end of it. I got a call from his dad that the police was reluctant to register an FIR. When i personally visited the checkpost, the excuse for not registering the FIR was that there was a visit of some IG and hence all the personnel were busy and the police did not have resources to investigate. Now, tell me, doesnt such attitude in itself generate anger to propel people to pick up arms? Anyways, we got the FIR filed (vakiil babu effect part II) and it has been a month since any headway. In fact, yesterday , the cop called us to ask if we had located the car!!!!

Now, with this experience, I really felt proud of our team. Organisations spend zillions to get their constitutes to react the way, the team did to the accident. We all knew our roles right away and by god's grace, the kid survived. But what really brought me to a guilt trip and showered a burst of extinguisher on our enthusiasm to help the kid get some justice was a phone call. Frustrated with the delayed process, the kid's dad called me. I told him that a way out could be to approach the court and blah blah blah. Now, at this point, the entire attitude changed. Till a few days back, we were getting thank you calls. Suddenly the tenor changed and maybe the kid's dad thought that our effort was centered on getting a brief. He didn't say so, but started talking about how he had a 'fair idea' about the 'commissions' that lawyers take against the claims . (BTW, last heard, Motor vehicle cases are quite rewarding, and hence the term 'Ambulance Chasers'). Now that was an eye opener. I did clarify to the chappie that being witnesses, we could not take up the matter and he would have to locate someone else for the assignment. Somehow, the enthusiasm drowned and a feeling crept in that we did whatever we could do. Of course, my (over)enthusiasm has become a bit of a joke because my colleagues think that the drip in enthusiasm is on account of our decision of not pursuing it as a case as counsels. Last heard, the kid was o.k. and treatment underway. No breakthrough in the case yet, but I hope that the kid recovers and lives a normal life ahead. But, without meaning to turn one, we face the possibility of being termed as 'ambulance chasers'. I just hope that the kid and his family remember us as those who got the ambulance for him and not otherwise.

Cheers !!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Of the system and the ways of tackling it

Last few months at A_L has made us witness diverse transactions, situations and the mindset behind those actions. Being the “socially recluse” person that I am (and someone whose childhood dream was to become a psychologist), it’s delightful to observe people’s reactions to a situation and the thought process by which they function. The existence of the system and the ways of tackling it is an area which has affected almost everybody’s lives. Numerous books have been written on such experiences, numerous discussions have ensued, but the topic still remains a debator’s delight.

What propelled me to share my thoughts on the subject was a candid discussion with one of our clients on his style of running an organization. The way an organization functions becomes an unfettered rule of law known as “the System”. What follows is the league of men trying to emulate the existing system as the basis of their existence. From within this league of ordinary men, a few extraordinary beings emerge who decide to challenge the system either for their own good or for general society’s advantage. For doing so, they can either fight the system head on, take up the lone battle and emerge a contended victorious aka Jerry Maguire or manipulate the system in a manner that the system itself does not know that it is being taken for a ride aka Lalit Modi.

I am not writing here on the relative merits/demerits of the respective methods and am definitely not defending Lalit Modi’s manipulations, but on the question that has been crossing my mind since the eventful discussion, has fighting the system become passé? I’ll leave it on you to decide.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Battlefields and tweets!!

A couple of weeks back, I went club hopping with some of my buddies. More often than not I find myself a misfit in such situations and would rather prefer a rooftop bon-fire party on a chilly winter night (or a summer night at a high altitutde). But this was something i will remember for some time to come. Though nothing spectacular took place, I saw myself getting quite a few inquisitive stares from people around. One good lad actually raised a mug of beer in my direction as a toast. Now, all this was a little awry 'cause i am definitely not used to be treated as a celebrity. On introspection, i realised it was the shirt tht i was was wearing, which, in very visible figures had "Siachen: I was there" written. To supplement it, another nice logo of Indian Army and a caption of "World's highest battlefield". Now , I have managed to reach the Brigade Headquarters at Pattapur and as far as the Advanced Landing Ground, but definitely have not been to siachen. This T shirt was gifted by a close buddy who relishes the time he spends in the battlefields of Siachen. Having an expanse of an area covering a few mountains and a substantial part of the glacier under his command gives him a 'high' of its own kind and he seems to enjoy every bit of it. It is interesting to see him and my father exchanging their views on the status of the area whenever he is here. The last time i had a chat with him, he was fuming on the attention that I got on the shirt. Maybe, a fair bit of jealousy on my getting the attention drawn from his "sweat". Though, when I told him that I could not vouch for a single pretty girl (the 'admirers'/onlookers being a bunch of kids), he felt better and promised to get me another. On another weekend, I went and saw "Hurt Locker" with another friend who has just completed his probation with the Para regiment, and now is a proud member of the elite Special Forces of Indian Army. Got some pretty interesting updates on Counter Terrorism strategies for which they are trained in. Its good to see my friends finding themselves amidst their own versions of Battlefields, and to add to it, they seem to be having a rocking time. Though, admittedly, it is a different ball game altogether if bullets are being showered on to you.

In retrospect, for the breed of people that surround me, battlefields are not necessarily something thrown at them. Rather, they see it as a situation they have been longing for and get their respective "highs" from the uncertainity that surrounds them. When they have negative opinions on their jobs, which they occassionally share with me, I struggle to graple with the difference in variations of our midset. Considering, till a few years back, we went to the same school/college and had a similar routine and mindset, the difference in our perceptions amaze me and am sure that the gap will get better with age. But somewhere down the line, we all will realise the dimensions of the battlefields that we are a part of and will be amazed at the sheer magnitude of decisions that we take in our day to day lives that have an impact tomorrow.

We ourselves have been facing some mini-battles. Plannning to move into a plush new office (albeit after a year and a half), we have been busy closing the deal for the new place. Every aspect involves enrmous rounds of negotiations and clarifications and we find ourselves taking very very important decisions which would have an impact for a forseable future. And to add to it all, seeing your bank balance run dry (again) and a liquidity does not entail a feel good factor.

On another note, this week the media has actively taken up the issue of Modi v. Tharoor and the associated heads that are going to roll with it. Well, I was personally dissappointed with the treatment meted out to Mr. Tharoor . I personally have a lot of admiration for his eloquence and his mastery over his subject matter , though the poor chap is a bit of a misfit in politics. He should have read the writing on the wall when he failed to make it to the Secretary General's post. He is the quintissential 'Keeda' (a term of respect in our circle to describe a person who always is prone to land into trouble). While he is happy tweeting away to glory, another technocrat, who was appoined along with him is busy entrenching himself in the complex world of finding yet another unique ID for the indian citizen. In conferences and seminars, he is seen with his ex-colleagues and I refuse to believe that he is not being informed of major projects at Infy. To me (strictly my personal opinion), Lalit Modi, Shahi Tharoor and Nandan Nilekani represent the coloqial concoction of bringing technocrats to manage projects of national importance (yes, I would definitely give that importance to IPL). Mr. Modi was assigned the task of making IPL into a global brand, Mr. Nilekani was to use his expertise in IT to make UID a functioning reality and Mr. Tharoor was to use his networking to push india's case for permanent seat on UN Security Council. It is, but human, that each of the three, essentially never being public servants, would try to derive some personal benefit through their offices. Would you expect Mr. Nilekani to close his eyes when infosys, a company that he has founded and nurtured, presents its bid in the project? Or wouldnt it be natural for Mr. Nilekani to create regulations/systems that may favour infosys? But, as long as the deed is done well, I guess the Indian public would never mind. But, Nilekani gets away only because he is smart enough not to tweet ...

I wonder why do we find ourselves amidst these battles? Is is ambition, lust for success or mere means to survival? We do not have the answer to this question and hope we never will, caus' looking for the answer itself drives us forward to the next level.

chalte raho, ladte raho.....till next time

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here I am

My maiden post on A_L's blog has been long overdue and I have been wanting to write it since the time I finally decided to quit waffling about how my life should be and actually did set it into motion. The reasons for not having been able to do were myriad (though i would want to believe it to be"in the burdensome life of your own setup, who has the time for blogging"!!!), but a recent soul-searching trip gave me the final impetus to move my *** and make it a reality. And that precisely was the reason behind the creation of the idea called A-L.

As i resolve not to sink back into the "comfortable" feeling of "cribbing", I am excited about the challenging possibilities that lay ahead of us. Life, as it is said, is not about destination, but about the experiences of the journey leading to the destination.

Till the next post, keep walking!!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Last 24 hours have been a small speck of the phenomenon that is life. The close of our day yesterday brought the sad news of demise of our beloved Anjana Ma'am, the Principal of the Law college most of our members went to! Demise, especially of the ones you care about or who care about you brings a rush of nostalgia, thereby creating a feeling that a part of who you are has gone amiss. I really cannot find words to describe the respect we had for her or her motherly touch in any and every interaction I have ever had with her and the AIL alumni in our team would agree to it. The last time I met her, I was still a greenhorn in this profession and I told her that I want to create a setup on my own one day. She was very happy to hear of my intent and had nothing but confidence in my aims. (though, I forced her to promise me a position in the college if it did not work out). I so wish that we could have been able to meet her again and tell her about our plunge in the mean bad world, from which she had done her bit to protect us. I could walk into her office anytime and come out with a constructive result (more often than not after enjoying a cuppa), a relation I have not shared with anyone before or after those days. She rued the fact that for all the bright ideas and initiatives, I did not apply my mind to get some papers published! For a wonderful person and a good administrator, this student of hers has nothing, but gratitude!

After an early start to the day, a hearing and marathon meetings, we found ourselves amidst an annual day celebration for which we were invited as guests by one of our clients. The whole event, passed on another bout of nostalgic feeling of the days when I was a part of the performers or the organizers!! I did mention to our host, the top boss of that institution, that the final performance is the relatively easier part..It is the preparation that is scary when every mistake is pointed out. I remember the instance when I had to play the part of a fallen soldier. I simply could not do it and it came to the notice of our Principal, who decided to take the matter in his own hands. So, one day, a couple of days before the performance, he caught me in a dead tired condition after a gruesome basketball practice session and asked me to enact my part..So tired was I sounding, that he told me that this was exactly how he wanted me to sound for the final performance!!! Then there was another time, when I was playing the part of Nehru and had to read out the tryst with destiny speech. Had to mug the whole speech up only to later see on television that Chacha Nehru had himself read out the thing!!! Now that was cruel... ;)

To add to it all, a major major difference of opinion with my Partner, which did its bit to raise the temperatures of Delhi, albeit marginally (may be we can offer our services to GMR now, albeit for the role of clearing the weather in winters). The impact of these events has left a tired mind, which is all set to hit the hay and letting the thoughts to rest till another day!!!

Cheers and drive carefully...Its crazy out there..